Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Stuck and Paralyzed

I was struck by the video that a colleague of mine posted on her blog as it illustrates just how stuck some educators are in their traditional ways of doing things and solving problems. When presented with a problem, instead of working together to find an answer, we call for help as if we are a victim of our situation, paralyzed by our circumstances.

The truth is, we have a choice to stay put or to move. To allow others to keep us hostage or to move around the system in a way that we build our own power and unstick ourselves so that we can continue to grow and for the purposes of education, continue to make a difference for the lives of those we teach. We have to learn how to empower ourselves and take risks. How do we do that if we feel as though we are in an unsafe environment to experiment and sometimes fail??

We have to hope that there are brave administrators our there who are willing to put on their sheilds and fight the good fight for teachers to feel safe in changing pedagogy, embracing Web 2.0 tools and changing teaching and learning! And, as my colleague Marcie says, "Negativity is not cool!!"

For those of us out there trying to make a difference, keep going!! Think of yourself in a swimming pool, wherever you are, as in a system, when you move you will cause ripples. As for my target for teachers...still trying to figure that out. I'm not sure we can set one target for all if we can not support it system wide.

I am reminded of a Sesame Street book that illustrates similar principles to Kristin's video mentioned above...where Big Bird has a wagon that just won't go (doesn't have wheels) and then asks "who has something good for wagons" and EVERYONE comes running with something different to help fix his wagon...at the end of the book Grover says..."every day you need a helper, every day I need one too, there's so much we can do together, you help me and I'll help you!"

These simple messages make sense to children...why don't we try them on educators?!

Monday, July 2, 2007

How Do You Hit a Moving Bulls-Eye with a Blindfold On?

...well, with ESP of course!! :) Having just come back from NECC, I find that my head is spinning with so many new ideas and it is now time to write the goals of technology integration for next year. As I think about them, I am reminded of a few quotes from my dissertation research:
  • Technology alone is only one piece of the puzzle that can support educational change, but technology will have little impact without accompanying reform at all levels (Barnett, 2003; Ely, 2000).
  • The success of a system wide change model depends on a coordinated “bundle” of innovations affecting many groups of stakeholders those results in a coherent system after its implementation (Ellsworth, 2000, ¶ 11).
  • Further investigation into how teacher pedagogy and teacher technology knowledge affect general teaching practice found that teachers who are exemplary in pedagogy are able to integrate technology as an effective tool, even if their technological expertise is not at an advanced level (Pierson, 2001).
What do we start with and how do we move (or continue to move) forward? I find that people who have a hard time with structure, have a hard time with the vision of implementing technology, or with the idea that sometimes, the change you want to see cannot be "measured" when it comes to technology integration and student acheivement. Don't get me wrong, I believe we do need measures of success. Sometimes, however, they may come in the form of anectdotal records instead of statistical scores. Those wishing to use an instrument should take a look at the featured research paper at NECC, "Cross-Validating Measures of Technology Integration." Definitely worth a read if you are looking for a tool to measure teacher technology use and integration. Copies of the instruments reviewed can be found here http://www.iittl.unt.edu/.

In the meantime, I am going to try to create a target that my teachers can see (topic for a future blog), so that they can try to hit it with their eyes open and tell their stories about the challenges and successes along the way!